October 1, 2016

It’s time to end the failed War on Terrorism

war_on_terror_montage1_800x581Another September 11 is upon us and the usual calls for “vigilance,” “resolve” and “remembrance” have begun. For Americans, this has become a quasi-religious event, with the kinds of rituals and communal utterances once reserved for holy days like Christmas and Easter. Except, in this case, it is not a call to love thy neighbor or one’s enemies, but to continue what can only be described objectively as another failed government “war.”

The War on Terrorism is as complete a failure as the War on Drugs. Both share the hallmark symptoms of all such government endeavors: continually increasing budgets, exploding proliferation of what is made war upon, increasingly harsh measures following each successive failure and enormous collateral damage.

At the center of both debacles is the same fundamental issue: the failure to recognize government intervention as the root cause of the problem itself.

The attack fifteen years ago was not the first terrorist attack perpetrated by foreigners on American soil, but it was by far the worst. And just as it does for so many other government-caused catastrophes, the public demanded the government “do something” about it, rather than stop doing the things that motivated the killers.

Or, maybe the public simply went along with the government-media complex’s unison exhortation for a “war on terror,” along with its promotion of the ludicrous ‘hate us for our freedom” explanation of the motivation behind the attacks. Never mind that every single terrorist ever captured and questioned by U.S. authorities – including those prosecuted for the 9/11 attack itself – have cited U.S. military intervention in the Middle East as their motivation.

The unwillingness to accept the perpetrators’ own words for the motivation behind their attacks is unprecedented in American jurisprudence. For any other crime, correctly identifying the motive is a key element of the prosecution’s case. Failure to prove a compelling motive can mean acquittal, even for a guilty defendant. Yet Americans show no interest in the motive for this crime, defaming anyone who talks about it for “blaming America.”

If a wife catches her husband with another woman and shoots him, nobody claims she hated him for his freedom. Acknowledging her true motivation is an integral part of proving her guilty. But for the War on Terror, like most government programs, common sense and logic doesn’t apply.

Regardless of whether one faces reality concerning the motive for 9/11, one thing is certain: terrorism has proliferated enormously since the government declared war upon it, just like drug use. It’s time to ask ourselves exactly what we hope to accomplish with another fifteen years of bombing, invading or sanctioning destitute countries full of people with nothing left to lose.

There are two possible reasons for continuing the “war:” deterrence and revenge. The former is the politically correct reason. The latter is not, but, let’s be honest with ourselves, just as real. When Americans post “never forget,” they are expressing a range of emotions, but among them is the same understandable anger that motivated Sam Houston’s soldiers who exclaimed “Remember the Alamo!” while visiting a merciless slaughter upon Mexican soldiers, even after the Mexicans began trying to surrender.

If revenge is the motivation, it has been accomplished. The 9/11 attackers killed approximately 3,000 Americans. The War on Terror has since killed millions of inhabitants of the Middle East, most of them as innocent as the Americans killed on 9/11. It has ransacked two entire nations, indirectly led to chaos in several others controlled by ISIS and other jihadist groups, and created the refugee crisis we now find ourselves dealing with. For fifteen years, every day has been 9/11 for populations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and several other Middle Eastern countries.

At some point, even Sam Houston’s soldiers stopped the slaughter.

As for deterrence, it should be obvious by now that those of us who always maintained that fighting a conventional war with bombers and ground troops does nothing to deter individual terrorist acts were right. This should be intuitive. How could a conventional army fighting a war thousands of miles away possibly do anything to deter terrorists like the Tsarnaev brothers, who cited those very wars as the motivation for their attacks?

An entire generation of Middle Easterners who weren’t even born on September 11, 2001 will turn fifteen years old tomorrow. They are approaching adulthood having lived their entire lives under the constant threat of death from above, with foreign troops of an alien culture patrolling their streets by day and kicking in their doors at night. Only a fool could expect anything but hatred, rational or not, from people in this situation.

Only a government could suggest this epic failure simply requires more funds spent on the same strategy to turn decades-long failure into success. It’s the same fairy tale taxpayers are told about education, poverty, or drugs. The dynamics don’t miraculously change nor the government become suddenly competent when it is fighting terrorism. But it does create even more lethal problems for those it purports to help.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Without Rand Paul It Isn’t a Debate, Trump or No Trump

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, addresses the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, addresses the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The big news from last Thursday’s Republican Presidential Debate on Fox News was the absence of what Meghan Kelly called, “the elephant not in the room.” Thanks to the ongoing feud between her and front runner Donald Trump, the latter was not on the stage. In what was largely treated as a footnote, Rand Paul was.

Several media have asserted the debate was more substantive without Trump, the issues having more space in the absence of his overpowering personality and the likely attention that would have been paid to his controversial style. But it wasn’t Trump’s absence that made this debate more substantive. It was Rand Paul’s presence. Without him, the last spectacle wasn’t a debate at all.

Debate moderators are television people. They are interested in whatever makes the best television and gets the highest ratings. The debate moderators on Thursday, echoing the larger media narrative, continually pushed the establishment vs. anti-establishment theme. That’s certainly a phenomenon in this election cycle, but it really means nothing in terms of policy.

The whole purpose of this exercise is to determine the difference, if any, between the candidates seeking the presidency. Without Rand Paul, there isn’t a difference to determine, not even with Trump. Trumps style might be different, but he’s a lot more like an establishment Republican than the media narrative would have one believe.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

There is nothing new about the neoconservatives

nothing new

Robert Eno of Conservative Review named Rand Paul the “standout of the night” after the December 15 Republican Presidential Debate on CNN. Eno laments that the mainstream media, including “conservative media pundits,” will proclaim Rubio the winner. Eno implies these pundits aren’t true conservatives, referring to a species of unicorn sought by millions of self-identified conservative voters.

Rand Paul himself has called out Rubio and other proponents of the U.S. military empire as failing to adhere to authentic conservative principles. The self-named “neoconservatives,” we’re told, are really progressives in Republican clothing, failing to promote the true conservative principles of small government, free markets and a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Rand is right about nonintervention, but he’s wrong about conservatism. There is nothing new about the neoconservatives. The essence of conservativism itself is belief in the need for an all-powerful government that regulates every area of life domestically and dominates every other nation in the world. This has been the conservative worldview for thousands of years. It has never changed.

Conservatives see the world as Thomas Hobbes did. Human nature is so depraved that the government must be powerful enough to “keep them in awe.” Like other enlightenment philosophers, Hobbes saw the relationship of nations to one another as virtually identical to the relationship between individual people. They are all in a de facto state of war unless one nation dominates the rest.

This explains the otherwise puzzling compulsion by generations of U.S. politicians to interfere in the affairs of destitute Third World countries thousands of miles away. Just as individual liberty within society is a threat to the commonwealth, self-determination by any individual nation is a threat to the world order. The “domino theory” offered as justification for the Korean and Viet Nam Wars was firmly rooted in Hobbesian conservatism. So was the British Empire.

Many conservatives would object and point to Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk as representing the true tenets of conservatism. There’s only one problem: Burke and Kirk agree with Hobbes on just about everything.

Hobbes, Burke and Kirk all deny the existence of natural, inalienable rights. Like Hobbes, Burke says that man in the state of nature “has a right to everything,” meaning there can be no rights to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Rather than “to secure these rights,” according to Burke, governments exist so “the inclinations of men should frequently be thwarted, their will controlled, and their passions brought into subjection.”

The only disagreement between Hobbesian “centralizers” and Burkean “constitutionalists” is on how government power should be distributed. The Hobbesians believe the sovereign power can never be safely divided. It must reside in one place, preferably in one man. Hobbesians in American history include Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and George W. Bush.

The Burkeans believe the opposite. As the politicians have the same dark nature, they must be thwarted, too. Burkean conservatives in American history include John Adams, Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater.

Here’s the rub. While Burkean constitutional conservatives want power divided, they still believe 100% of the power resides somewhere in the government. If the federal government isn’t going to regulate a particular area of life, then the state or municipal government should. Or the town government. Or your local school board. No area of life remains unregulated.

Similarly, the two conservative camps have disagreements on foreign policy, but not on principle. “Old Right” conservatives like Robert Taft may have argued against war, but Taft’s chief argument against participation in NATO was his fear it would concentrate too much power in the executive, although he hints at the non-aggression principle in passing:

“Under the Monroe Doctrine we could change our policy at any time. We could judge whether perhaps one of the countries had given cause for the attack. Only Congress could declare a war in pursuance of the doctrine. Under the new pact the President can take us into war without Congress.”

Contrary to the beliefs of a lot of well-meaning people, individual liberty, limited government and free markets are the antithesis of conservatism and always have been. Mercantilism is the economic system of conservatism; empire its natural foreign policy.

The American Revolution was very much a libertarian revolution against a Hobbesian, mercantilist and militarist empire. The ensuing struggle between Federalists and Jeffersonians was likewise a struggle between conservatism and libertarianism, respectively.

As inconsistent as he sometimes was in practice, Jefferson’s thinking and writing remained consistent on this point throughout his life. He repeatedly cited the libertarian principle that government should “restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free” in describing the limits of government power.

His foreign policy was mostly libertarian as well. Unlike President Obama, he really gutted the military, cutting its budget by over 90% and largely dismantling the navy (the army was already disbanded when he took office). His stated purpose was to make the navy a purely defensive force, incapable of foreign adventures.

Like millions of self-identified conservatives, Rand Paul is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. He’s trying to see libertarianism as a subset of conservativism, just as Reagan did. It isn’t. It’s no surprise that even his attempt to portray himself as an authentic, Old Right conservative has failed. Trying to blend conservatism and libertarianism leads one into all sorts of self-contradictory positions.

It’s no coincidence that enthusiasm has peaked at those moments when Paul has taken the purely libertarian positions of his father, as he did filibustering drone strikes on American citizens or the Patriot Act. The marketplace of ideas is telling him something.

There is an intuitive libertarian instinct in everyone. The desire to live and let live and use force only in response to aggression is quite literally the “law of nature,” as Locke wrote over three hundred years ago. There are millions of Americans who believe it, but have it philosophically jumbled with the antithetical tenets of conservatism.

Rand Paul may be one of them. Or, he may believe the only way to make America more libertarian is by appealing to conservatives within the political process. Either way, he’s wrong.

Americans are starving for something besides conservatism or liberalism (as it’s defined today). A lot of them just don’t know it. Rand Paul could do the most good by taking his father’s ideas a step farther and rejecting conservatism altogether. It’s a dead end for the liberty movement, just as it always has been.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

San Bernardino and Paris Shootings the Latest Proof: Conventional War Does Nothing to Deter Terrorism

1st_Boston_Marathon_blast_seen_from_2nd_floor_and_a_half_block_awayMarcio Rubio is running a television commercial in which he says, “What happened in Paris could happen here.” He seemed prescient in retrospect following the tragedy in San Bernardino last week.

Whether radical Islamists want to kill us “because we let women drive,” as Rubio contends, or because of decades of nonstop political and military intervention in their countries is another story. Ultimately, one cannot solve this problem unless one understands what has caused it.

For the past fifteen years, the Unites States has tried to solve it with conventional warfare. It is accepted without question that, whatever else the intelligence community or other security apparatus are doing, waging conventional war on Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban or other Islamic paramilitary groups in the region is a necessary and effective way of deterring Islamic terrorism in the United States.

After fifteen years, it’s time to question that dubious assumption.

The answer has always been intuitive to me and I doubt I’m alone. Sending 140,000 soldiers to fight a conventional war in the Middle East does absolutely nothing to make it harder for two guys in Boston to bomb a foot race or a guy and his wife to shoot up a government building. How could it?

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

We Need to Really Gut the Military

cracked-american-flag-jpgU.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told the Harvard Kennedy School Tuesday that Americans will be grappling with violent extremism for generations to come. If that feels like déjà vu, you’re not imagining things. Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark O. Schisslersaid the same thing – in 2006.

Schissler was expressing concern at the time over wavering public support for a war that had already lasted longer than WWII. His concern was warranted. The Republican Party had just suffered a shellacking in the mid-term elections, largely due to public dissatisfaction with “neoconservative” foreign policy. They would lose the White House two years later for largely the same reasons.

American voters may have believed they “threw the bums out,” as Carroll Quigley might put it, but the foreign policy never changed. The Obama administration may have used different tactics, but it’s been even more interventionist than Bush’s. It’s certainly intervened in more countries.

Bush and the 2000s Republicans were called neoconservatives, but they weren’t. Their way of seeing the world is classic conservatism, straight out of Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes not only saw all individuals, but all nations, in a de facto state of war with each other, in the absence of some overwhelming external force “keeping them in awe.”

This was the inspiration for the British Empire, which sought to “civilize” the world by force of arms. It eventually bled itself dry, its biggest failures occurring on precisely the same ground the United States is bleeding on now.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Thought for the day: Why can’t the U.S. imitate Switzerland?

shutterstock_181475261-643x419Thought for the day: Here’s a compromise I’d be willing to make with the left on the USA imitating a European welfare state: We’d imitate Switzerland. That means:

  1. An extremely limited central government with very low central government taxation (about 11% of GDP)
  2. Each canton/state decides how generous its welfare benefits will be and taxes its citizens accordingly. There is no national health care or centrally-mandated benefits.
  3. Firearms are not only considered a right, but a responsibility (although we wouldn’t mandate militia service – we have plenty who would volunteer)
  4. Nonintervention in foreign affairs in the proud Swiss tradition that even WWII was unnecessary (which it was)

I think that’s fair. How about it, lefties?

*Photo by Orbex

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Afghanistan Now Another Korea: How Did American Taxpayers Become Financially Responsible for the Liberty and Security of Every Soul on the Planet?

anotherPresident Obama announced Thursday that the present deployment of 9,800 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan throughout the remainder of his term as president. The president cited the “safe haven” narrative to justify changing his former plan to withdraw from the war-torn nation in 2016.

“As commander in chief, I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again,” Obama said. “Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be.”

A few days earlier, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley told Morning Joe, “I think Afghanistan, as long as we stick with them, and we continue with the current program, and continue to resource that appropriately, I think Afghanistan will turn out ok.” When asked what “Ok” means, Milley gave substantively the same answer.

This is important, because it attempts to establish that U.S. military operations in the Middle East are somehow protecting the lives, liberty or property of American taxpayers. Supposedly, having “safe haven” camps to train and “radicalize” new terrorists is an essential element in the ongoing jihad against the United States.

It’s a convenient story, but it isn’t remotely true. That terrorists need to be “radicalized” in overseas camps before they’ll commit terrorist attacks in America wasproven demonstrably false by the Tsarnaev brothers in 2012. U.S. authorities tried desperately to establish the elder Tsarnaev had joined a militant group in Dagestan before plotting to kill innocent people in Boston, but failed. It turned out he had been radicalized right here in the USA.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Why Can’t Russia and China Help Police the World?

n-PUTIN-largePresident Obama today announced his administration’s reluctant agreement to work with Russia and Iran to defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Middle East. This will no doubt be met with howls of “Weakness!” and “leading from behind” by Mr. Obama’s Republican detractors.

We may even hear the tired “appeasement” argument trotted out regarding both Russia’s and Iran’s supposed ambitions to expand their territories.

Republicans have consistently criticized Obama for not being aggressive enough on the world stage and for pulling back too early from Iraq and Afghanistan. With the emergence of ISIS, the GOP has seized the opportunity to quash more reasonable foreign policy positions from candidates like Rand Paul and push for sharper increases in military spending and even more aggressive foreign intervention.

The argument we hear repeatedly from Republican presidential candidates is that Obama has “eviscerated the military” and “led from behind.” If the United States is not “engaged” (i.e., bombing or invading) in all crises at all times in every part of the world, emerging powers like Russia or China are going to fill the resulting vacuum. That raises an obvious question:

So, what?

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

What If Opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal Is All About Oil?

oil rigRepublicans jumped the shark last week in apoplectic frenzy after President Obama secured enough support in the Senate to ensure Congress will not block U.S. participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), popularly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said it would lead to a “holocaust” and that the United States is “at existential risk.”

Rep. Steven King (R-IA) said the Iran nuclear deal represented “a seminal moment in the history of the world,” saying it “means to [sic] tens of millions of lives down the road.”

Marco Rubio said lifting the sanctions would allow Iran to bolster its defensive capabilities and “raise the price of us operating in the region,” apparently unaware of the millions of Americans who don’t want the U.S. military operating in the Middle East at all.

At the same time, CNN reported Iran plans to increase oil production as soon as possible after the sanctions are lifted, adding approximately 1.5 million more barrels per day to the world oil supply by the end of 2016.

Isn’t anyone even curious if there is a connection?

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Iran is giving up far more than the United States in nuclear deal

Iran Nuclear Deal Who Says WhatRepublicans in Congress are ramping up their rhetoric against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated by President Obama. The president wants this deal badly enough to once again play fast and loose with the constitutional limits on executive power. The Republicans want to snuff the deal badly enough to say anything, no matter how ridiculous, to incite opposition.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told Stuart Varney Thursday: “This is a treaty. The Constitution requires that a treaty have two thirds of those present concur, in the Senate, on ratification.”

He is right about that. The Constitution doesn’t say anything about “executive agreements.” Any international agreement negotiated by the president is either a treaty or unconstitutional. But then, Gohmert went on to make this ridiculous statement:

“There is a holocaust looming and we have an obligation to stop it and not play politics like this does. We can stop this if we call it what it is, call it a treaty and quit playing political games because Israel is at stake. They’re the Little Satan, but we are the Great Satan and this nation is at existential risk.”

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.